Driven to overcome failure, leading and developing her next giant leap - Department of Computer Science - Purdue University Skip to main content

Driven to overcome failure, leading and developing her next giant leap


Victoria Liu, a senior and computer science major in the software engineering track has enjoyed success during her time at Purdue University. Hailing from Hanover, New Jersey, Liu has had the opportunity to make friends and meet people from a multitude of different backgrounds. She co-founded a new organization on campus and she forged a difficult time that taught her how to overcome failure.victoria-liu.jpg

The people at Purdue

“My favorite part about Purdue is all the people I have had the opportunity to meet during my time here,” said Liu. “I think it’s really awesome how at Purdue I was able to make new friends every year of undergrad.”

As a Boilermaker, Liu was able to meet people from different backgrounds and gain insight and experience from her fellow students. This was especially true as she joined student-run organizations. The experience gave her the opportunity to meet talented people who are passionate about their specific mission, ranging from nonprofit work to leadership. 

“You can find an organization that will make you feel like you belong, and if not, you can always start your own,” said Liu. She added, “There’s such a great community of people at Purdue to learn from.”

Creating her own

Working within that same community, Liu felt there was room for an organization that prioritized nonprofit coding projects. She and a friend began the process of co-founding a new student organization on campus. 

“We brought up the idea of starting an organization our sophomore year. In our junior year, we became more serious and worked on the application and documentation to start an organization at Purdue. At the end of Spring 2020, Hack the Future was approved, and we spent that summer planning and bringing our organization to life.”Liu co-founded Hack the Future which aims to create year-long technology projects for nonprofits. Student members gain skills and knowledge not readily taught in their classes. 

“We created four different projects for local nonprofits around Purdue. It has been amazing to see how far the organization has come since it started and see our idea come to fruition,” said Liu.

An invaluable lesson

“During my time at Purdue Computer Science, I learned many things about myself and how I handle adversity,” said Liu. “My first piece of advice to students would be that it is okay to fail. Failure is just a part of the process and leads you to your successes.

The first time Liu took CS 180, the introductory course that all computer science and data science majors take, she didn’t pass. 

“That feeling was foreign to me since I had never failed a class in high school,” said Liu. “I beat myself up about my grade and even thought about switching majors.”

After speaking with her parents and advisor, she realized that retaking CS 180 was a reasonable option. She determined retaking the class was beneficial overall and would help her understand the concepts she was unfamiliar with. Looking back, she felt she was too hard on herself and that there was no need to be defeated by failure. 

“I realized it was not the end of the world,” said Liu. “Especially because CS 180 was the first time I had ever coded.” 

Liu retook the class the following semester and passed with an A. If there is one thing she wants to pass on to other students is that it is ok to ask for help. 

“When taking CS 180 the first time around, I was struggling and I knew it, but was too afraid to ask for help,” said Liu. For someone who never needed extra help in high school, she was always able to teach herself new concepts, it was particularly hard when she couldn’t master it on her own.  

“I could teach myself anything in high school, so I thought I could do the same in college,” said Liu. She added, “When I retook the class, I made sure to go to the office hours when I was struggling with a concept and asked questions. The TAs and professors are there to help you, so you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to them.”

She credits her complete grade turnaround with the right mindset and attitude going into class. “When I retook CS 180, I saw it as an opportunity to learn the subject matter thoroughly and to do better than the first time around,” said Liu. 

When thinking about what helped her the most, Liu shared, “I reflected on what I did wrong the first time. For example, I always did my assignments at the last minute, so when I retook the class I made an effort to start assignments early and not fall behind.”  

Her focus in computer science

Within the major of computer science, Liu pursued the software engineering track. Despite having a focus in one track, computer science students still take classes that apply to many different computing topics. “I have taken all kinds of classes, such as Operating systems, Software Testing, Computer Security, Information Systems, said Liu.” She added, “My favorite software engineering class was Software Engineering I (CS 307), which was taught by Professor Roopsha Samanta.

“One of the main projects is a semester-long software project created with a group of classmates,” said Liu. It provided great experience to both frontend and backend coding and working on a software project with a team. In addition, it gave insight on using a scrum framework for software development, which is common in the industry.”

When asked what she wants others to know about computer science, Liu talks about the world being innovative and reliant on technology. She wants others to know that computer science is used all around us in our everyday lives. 

“Computer science is what makes our lives easier and allows us to complete tasks more efficiently,” said Liu. “People do not need to know exactly what computer science is but should know that it is an important field that impacts our lives.” 

About the Department of Computer Science at Purdue University

Founded in 1962, the Department of Computer Science was created to be an innovative base of knowledge in the emerging field of computing as the first degree-awarding program in the United States. The department continues to advance the computer science industry through research. US News & Reports ranks Purdue CS #20 and #18 overall in graduate and undergraduate programs respectively, ninth in both software engineering and cybersecurity, 14th in programming languages, 13th in computing systems, and 24th in artificial intelligence. Graduates of the program are able to solve complex and challenging problems in many fields. Our consistent success in an ever-changing landscape is reflected in the record undergraduate enrollment, increased faculty hiring, innovative research projects, and the creation of new academic programs. The increasing centrality of computer science in academic disciplines and society, and new research activities - centered around data science, artificial intelligence, programming languages, theoretical computer science, machine learning, and cybersecurity - are the future focus of the department.


Writer: Emily Kinsell,

Source: Victoria Liu,

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